Armenia is officially known by the name, Republic of Armenia. It was formerly a socialist republic of the erstwhile Soviet Union. The country got its independence from the Soviet Union in the year 1991. Ever since its independence, it has never looked back and is trying hard to come out of its socialist past. Early in the 4th century in the year 301 AD, the country was the first in the world to embrace Christianity as a state religion. From the 5th century onwards, Armenia came under the rule of many empires, notable among them being the Byzantine and the Sasanian Empires. Later on, between the 16th and 19th century Armenia, divided into Eastern Armenia and Western Armenia came under the rules of the Ottomans and the Iranians. Eastern Armenia in the 19th century came under the rule of the Russians and had been part of the Soviet Empire until its independence. Western Armenia on the other hand was annexed by the Ottomans and is now an integral part of modern day Turkey.Geography
The country is located in the western part of Asia, bordering Europe. The region is mostly mountainous, the average height from mean sea level being 1800 metres. The Peak of Mount Ararat at 4090 metres is the highest elevation in Armenia. More than three-fourth of the land mass of Armenia is situated between the heights of 1,500 to 2,500 metres.There are numerous rivers and lakes in Armenia. Cut out from the seas, Lake Sevan is the largest body of water in Armenia. Situated at an altitude of 1,900 metres, it is one of the largest high altitude lakes in the whole of Eurasia. Inflows from 28 rivers feed this huge lake. The country has borders with Georgia to its north, Azerbaijan to its east, Iran to its south and Turkey to its west and southwest. Armenia is a landlocked country with no access to the sea.Climate
The average temperatures in Armenia during the winter months of January is -2.3 degree centigrade, whereas during summers in June it is 16.6 degrees. Snowfall is quite common during the winter season, especially at higher altitudes. It is common to see many coming to the country to ski during the winters. Having a continental climate, summers at times could be quite hot. Autumns are the most pleasant time to be in Armenia.Politics and government
Armenia is a presidential republic with a democratic set up. The President is the head of the state and the Prime Minister the head of the government in Armenia.The executive power mainly lies with President and to some extent with the government. With a unitary form of government, multi-party democracy is practiced in Armenia. The parliament of Armenia is a unicameral one. International relations
On the international front, the country is a member of a number of organizations, more than forty, in fact. It is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Council of Europe, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, WTO, Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and a few more.
The country has adverse relations with Azerbaijan, itsMuslim majorityneighbour. The two countries have been at war for several years in the late 1980s and the 1990s over the control of NagarnoKarabakh in Azerbaijan, aregion with majority Armenians. There have been no solution till date, even though there have been efforts to mediate between the two warring countries by the international community. Armenia's relations with Turkey is also not that cordial, its westerly neighbour.Early in the 20th century, during the Armenian Genocide, the Ottoman Empire had systematically exterminated a large number of Armenians in its territory. Ever since, there has never been any formal relations between the two countries and an economic blockade is in place from the Turkish side.Economy
While it was a part of the Soviet Union, the economy of Armenia mainly depended on Soviet investment in its various industries. The Armenian economy was well to do then. Soon after the dissolution of Soviet Union, Armenia was hard pressed, as there was no support from its former Soviet partners. Its war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh was detrimental to the economy. Its worsening relations with both Azerbaijan and Turkey made matters worse as outside supply of goods and energy was affected. It was only in the late 1990s after a spate of reforms by the democratic government that the economy rebounded and has since then seen a steady growth. With steady economic progress, the country has seen support from external financial agencies as well as coming of foreign investment. The country is today seeing major growth in the field of technology, manufacturing, mining, energy production and a few others. Hydroelectricity is the main source of energy in Armenia. In case you desire to work in Armenia, the information technology sector is the most attractive one, as it is the fastest growing. Other popular jobs are that of economists, lawyers, linguists, financiers and marketing specialists.Travel and tourism
There are plenty of places to visit and see in Armenia. Some of the most stunning views are near to the peak of Mount Aragat, which dominates the small country's skyline. The country's capital Yerevan is coming up as a great place for tourists. The city is famed for his architectural wonders. There are the world's oldest churches, monasteries and ancient ruins to visit. The lakes and national parks are a must in almost everyone's travel itinerary. Transportation is easily available and at reasonable costs. Zvartnots International Airport near to Yerevan is the gateway to the country. It is connected to many European and CIS countries. There is one more airport in Armenia.
- Yerevan is the capital of Armenia. It is here, where most of the universities and higher education institutions in the country are located.
- The population of Armenia is around 3.1 million
- The official language is Armenian and is the native of almost 98% of the population. Various ethnic languages are also spoken, like Russian, Assyrian, Ukrainian, Kurdish, Greek and Yezidi,forming the remaining 2% of the total population.
- Christianity is the dominant religion in the country, with almost the entire country adhering to Christianity. Most Armenians follow the Armenian Apostolic Church. Catholics are the largest religious minority.
- Armenia is the first country in the world to take to Christianity officially.
- Mount Ararat is a sacred mountain for the Armenians, as it is said that the mountain had been the final resting place for the mythical Noah's Ark. The spectacular mountain is seen from wherever you go in Yerevan.
- Armenians are one of the most tourist friendly people in the world. It is very easy to mingle with the locals even if you are not aware of their language or customs.
- ‘Lavash', Armenia's national flatbread and an inseparable part of Armenian cuisine, is included in the UNESCO heritage list.
- Just like the Indians have their Holi festival and Spain its Tomatina festival, the Armenians have their own ‘Varadavar' festival in the summer, when young and old, pour water over one another and have lots of fun.
- The official currency is Armenian dram (AMD). Hundred luma makes a dram. One US dollar is equivalent to 484 Armenian drams.
Admission Process in Armenia
To enroll in an Armenian university or higher education institution, you need to begin the application process a bit early. Since most academic sessions in Armenia start by the first week of September, it is advisable that you start applying before June itself. To apply by June you will have to start your search by the beginning of the year itself. Once you have decided on the university you will enrol at, start arranging for your resources and all necessary documents. You need to check for the tuition fees and the living costs in Armenia. If need be, you need to apply for a scholarshipthat are available for foreign students studying in Armenia. For someone desirous of studying medicine in Armenia, check for the recognition of the courses and the institution by the medical fraternity of Armeniaas well as by Medical Council of India (MCI), if you are a student from India.
Once you are done with the selection of the university and the course, apply for the same. Wait for your candidature to be accepted. The university itself will apply for an entry permit for you from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Armenia. Once the permit is available with you, proceed to the nearest Armenian embassy with all the necessary documents and apply for your student visa. Once approved, which usually takes a few weeks, you will receive the entry visa to travel to Armenia as a student. Once there, apply for the residence permit and have a comfortable stay at Armenia.
Student Visa Application Process
Student visas for Armenia are relatively easy to obtain. You need to have at least a secondary school education and a valid passport if you wish to apply for an undergraduate program. For postgraduate programs, the minimum requirement is a bachelor's degree or diploma. For applying for a student visa, you first need to apply for admission to the university where you wish to study. Once your candidature is accepted, the university itself will apply to the concerned section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Armenia for your entry permission. Once you obtain the necessary entry permit, you are free to apply for the student visa by visiting the nearest Armenian embassy. You may also directly apply online through the provision for applying an E-visa
. The list of documents needed to obtain the visa is covered later in this article. Once the visa application is approved by the embassy, you will receive a single entry visa for Armenia. On arrival at Armenia you will have to apply for the residence permit.
One may also first come to Armenia on a visitor visa, get admission in a college and then apply for a temporary residence permit. The college in turn will apply for your entry permit. On receipt of the entry permit you are to apply for the necessary visa from the Armenian embassy. With few countries, Armenia has arrangements based on reciprocity, where one may not require a visa to enter the country. For rest all others, a visa is essential to enter Armenia. While in Armenia, you may apply for renewal of the residence permit, depending upon the duration of the course, whenever it falls due. After obtaining the residence permit, foreign students may work part time to cover part of their living expenses in Armenia. It is however not easy to find decent paying jobs in Armenia because of the high rate of unemployment in the country.
Armenians lead a very modest lifestyle. Armenians are known for their hospitality and friendliness, especially with foreigners. They are always ready to help you in case you need help. It is all the more easy to make friends here. Even though you may not speak Armenian, the locals will try to explain you with gestures and whatever little they know of English, Russian, French or German. They will be never short of helping you. With such warm gestures from the Armenians, it becomes easier for you to pick up the Armenian language.
Among many things, dance is an essential part of Armenian culture. It is a kind of cultural heritage here and it has been practiced ever since the fifth or third millennia BC. Accompanying dance as an integral part of Armenian culture is music. Armenians are also very fond of various kinds of art work, carpet making and lace making. People here love to go to the concerts, theaters, cinemasand the art exhibitions.
Armenian cuisine is also a rich part of the Armenian heritage. It is as old as Armenian history itself. The food here is of different tastes and aromas. Many of the dishes are unique to Armenia. Armenian wine and brandy, especially Armenian Cognac are famed worldwide.
Geographically being closer to the European countries, the lifestyle of the people here is distinctly European. Modern Armenia is opening up to the comforts of the modern world. European influence is increasingly being felt in the Armenian society. With rising economic growth, the aspirations of the people of Armenia too is rising. Armenians today are looking for the latest in everything, from cars, electronics and modern apartments.
Sports is quite popular in the country with many taking to football as their most favoured game. Other than football,the Armenians indulge in many other sports like horse riding, skiing, snowboarding, mountain climbing and boxing.They also hang out with friends in pubs, nightclubs, cafes, casinos and high-end restaurants. They listen to the latest music, take an active interest in politics and even participate in various cultural events and festivals. There are a number of picturesque locales for them to visit or get to a pleasure park or zoo along with the kids to have a fun-filled day.
Cost of Living for Students
Compared to most parts of the world, the cost of living and transportation in Armenia is quite low.At Yerevan you have subways, buses, trains and vans that are quite cheap. Travelling by a mini-van or subway costs you as much as 0.25 US dollar. A taxi costs you 0.25 USD per kilometer. Suiting your budget, you can have a wide variety of accommodation in Armenia. It could be the dormitory type of accommodation that is available in some of the institutions or you may take rooms on rent. The costs are quite less, but depend upon the location and size of the apartment. They may cost anywhere upwards of US 150 dollars a month. Outside Yerevan, it is a lot cheaper. The food too is relatively cheap. Organic vegetables and fruits may just cost you 0.5-1 US dollar.
The tuition fees in Armenia varies, depending upon the course and the university you are enrolling. Typically, it is between US 2,000 to 4,000 dollars for a year of study. In Indian currency, medical education in Armenia may cost you at the most rupees 2 lakh a year as tuition fees.Very cheap, when compared to Indian private medical colleges. For those who may not be able to afford even that, there are various scholarships available for foreign students studying in Armenia.
Among other costs will be a mandatory health insurance that everyone staying in Armenia has to comply with. Medical services are not that easily available in the country and there is a shortage of pharmaceutical supplies. It is therefore recommended to have one's own supply of medicines for a host of common ailments like common cold, stomach upsets, etc. Emergency medical services are however available free of cost.
Documents for University Admissions in Armenia
To obtain a study visa for Armenia, you will be requiring the following important documents.
- Passport in original with at least a validity of six months beyond the duration of your stay in Armenia. The passport should also have at least two blank pages for putting the visa stamps and signatures.
- Signed and filled in visa application form.
- A letter of acceptance of your candidature from a recognized university or institute in Armenia. The letter should be on the college's letterhead and duly signed by the head of the institute.
- A covering letter stating your purpose and duration of the course in Armenia.
- Your school and college mark sheets and other relevant academic certificates.
- Recent passport size photographs in adequate numbers.
- A health or medical certificate and vaccination reports for ailments like yellow fever.
- Evidences and proofs showing your capability to finance your stay in the country. This could be in the form of bank documents or statements.
- Documents relating to your health insurance.
- Proof of accommodation in Armenia, whether dormitory or rented.
- Receipts of tuition fees paid to the respective university.
- Payment of necessary visa processing fees and their receipts.
It is essential that all the above documents should be translated in English and duly certified by the translator.